Pressly suspect in court UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pressly suspect in court UPDATE

Posted By on Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 4:08 PM

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--Brian Chilson photo

Circuit Judge Chris Piazza spent the day today hearing evidence against Curtis Vance, charged with capital murder in the beating death of KATV's Anne Pressly. The hearing will continue tomrrow, but today's testimony offered some of the most detailed accounts yet of evidence in the case.

His attorneys hope to suppress evidence in the case. To consider those motions, a great deal of police evidence was presented, including a series of statements Vance gave police in which he moved from disclaiming involvement, to saying he was responsible for Pressly's fatal beating with a metal tool to a complicated account in which he said he was present during a burglary of Pressly's house, but accomplices were responsible for her death.

Piazza denied a defense request to close the hearing. Piazza said his first case was civil suit involving president Clinton and that a previous judge had sealed the records in that case.  

“All it did was make everyone go crazy trying to figure out what was in it," Piazza said. "The more you hide the worse it gets.”

Reports from the hearing include testimony that Vance, during his initial contact with police in his hometown of Marianna last November provided DNA sample to "clear" himself. A DNA sample taken in a rape case in which Vance was subsequently charged matched with evidence in the Pressly case and led to questioning of Vance and his arrest Nov. 27, 2008.

On the jump, David Koon reports further on testimony from Detective Tommy Hudson.  Hudson says that Vance subsequently admitted to breaking into Pressly's home and striking her four or five times with a metal tool.

Hudson testified that during an interview with Vance, Vance admitted that his m.o. was breaking into homes and stealing laptops. He said he was driving around on Oct 19, in the Heights neighborhood, looking for a house to break into. He said that he had already contacted a guy in southwest Little Rock who would buy the laptops.

Vance said he broke into Pressly’s house. He originally told police that there was no one home, that he just stole a laptop and left. Later Vance asked the detectives if he needed a lawyer. Detectives told him they couldn’t make that decision for him, then he proceeded to tell them that, in fact, Pressly was home at the time. He said he took the laptop and put it outside on the lawn along with her purse. Vance said he then went back inside, went into her bedroom and saw her lying naked on the bed. At that time he became sexually aroused. He had a tool that he had stolen from the utility shed behind the house – it is unclear what the tool was – it had a metal head and a wooden handle. The detective had Vance sketch the tool during questioning.

Vance said he became aroused and moved close to the bed. Pressly woke up and a struggle ensued. Vance struck her four to five times in the head with the tool. Her left arm was broken in the struggle. Vance then ran out of the house and drove down Kavanaugh to University. He then took University to Interstate 30 and went to the Exxon at 9th and I-30 to buy gas with Pressly’s credit card. Vance said he threw the card out the window while driving down the road and he threw the tool off the Broadway Bridge into the Arkansas River.

Detective Tommy Hudson said he this conversation was not taped at the time, at Vance’s request.

--

The hearing continued into the afternoon.  Contrary to the story reported above, a taped confession was played  in which Vance changed his story.  Vance contacted detectives from the detention center and met with them on December 10. Vance told detectives that he was not alone on the night of the fatal beating (Pressly died in a hospital several days later), but had come to Little Rock with the intention of stealing TVs and laptops with a friend named Kenard. The two were trying to get some money for Vance’s birthday, which was October 22.

They met up with a guy in Little Rock, a career criminal named Slick, who regularly broke into residences to steal flat-screens and laptops. According to Vance, they were driving through the Heights neighborhood and saw a flat screen through the open curtains of Pressly’s home. Vance said they went in and Pressly was in bed with a sleep mask on her face. Her laptop was in her bed and her hand was on it.

According to Vance, he and Kenard put socks on their hands in order to hide their fingerprints. They went into the house and managed to get the laptop off the bed without waking Pressly up. Vance said he went out to the car to put the laptop away, and when he came back, Kenard and Slick were there saying, “Just go, just go!”

They got in the car. Vance asked why they had not grabbed the television. According to Vance, it was only later that he found out that Pressly had been bludgeoned. He claims it was Kenard who did it. Detectives asked Vance how his semen got on the bed and body. Vance told them that they had been with a prostitute earlier, and he had wiped his semen on his sock. He told detectives that Kenard was wearing Vance’s socks when they went into the house.

On the tape, detectives were questioning the plausibility of Vance’s account when the hearing ended. The hearing continue tomorrow morning at 9:30. 

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